A stricken cruise ship from which more than 400 people had to be airlifted to safety after it developed engine trouble in rough seas has arrived safely into port.
The Viking Sky sent a mayday at 2pm on Saturday and helicopter crews spent hours winching elderly passengers one by one from the deck as rescue ships and tugs went to aid the vessel.
Videos filmed by passengers show the ship rolling to an angle of almost 45 degrees, and water sluicing through communal areas inside the ship.
Today with three of four engines back up and running, the huge ship as come into the Norwegian coastal town of Molde.
Ambulance and red cross staff were ready and waiting on the dockside as the Sky approached
The Viking Sky sails slowly towards Molde, having got three of four engines operating again
Hans Vik, who heads the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre for southern Norway Police, told TV2: ‘It was very nearly a disaster. The ship drifted to within 100 metres of running aground before they were able to restart one of the engines.
‘If they had run aground we would have faced a major disaster.’
American Jan Terbruegn said there was little time for panic after the order came to abandon ship.
He told Norwegian news outlet Dagbladet: ‘We could see that we were getting blown in towards some rocks.
‘That was the most frightening thing I think. But luckily that wasn’t our destiny.’
Tug boats and supply ships escorted the stricken craft towards the Norwegian port town
Passengers could be seen on deck waving at the shore as the ship arrived into port
Horrifying photos have emerged which show the scale of the damage inside the vessel
Furniture was thrown around and glass shattered when he engines died and the craft shuddered
One passenger said: ‘We could see that we were getting blown in towards some rocks’
Today the billionaire owner of the cruise line, Torstein Hagen, told Norwegian TV2: ‘They’ve had a bit of a shocking experience.
‘Most of our passengers are senior citizens… imagine what it’s like to hang there on that wire.
‘It must be a terrible experience but they seem to have handled it very well.’
As many as 200 UK citizens may be among the 436 passengers about to disembark the Viking Sky, along with 458 crew, after the ship lost power yesterday lunchtime in huge swells.
Falling ceiling tiles hit passengers on the head as the struggling cruise ship rolled almost 45 degrees onto its side, tipping to send tables and chairs skimming across the decks.
Since receiving the mayday call coastguard helicopters have rescued 479 of the mainly elderly passengers already, winching them aboard aircraft one-by-one with five helicopters working in rotation carrying 15 passengers per sortie. The evacuation has now ended.
Twenty people have already been taken to hospital, three with serious injuries, and a 90-year-old man and his 70-year-old spouse were severely injured, according to Norwegian broadcaster NRK.
One frightening video shows water coursing through living quarters, after a door burst open when the ship was hit by a powerful wave, but the vessel is not believed to be sinking or taking on water.
Roof panels are seen falling and striking passengers heads in the video from on board the ship
A picture from inside the listing cruise ship shows it tipping over to one side
The huge cruise liner rolled dramatically as its engines spluttered in 30ft waves off the coast
This morning a spokeswoman for Viking Sky said: ‘All passengers were moved to muster stations, which are designated safe places on the vessel. They were kept warm and comfortable during this period of time.’
The spokeswoman later told MailOnline the passengers and crew of the vessel are safe and will be transported home this evening.
They said: ‘At 4:30pm (Norwegian time) on 24 March 2019, the Viking Sky docked in the port of Molde. All passengers and crew are safe, and passengers will be flying home starting tonight.
‘Throughout all of this, our first priority was for the safety and well-being of our passengers and our crew.
‘We would like to thank the Norwegian Redningssentral and the Norwegian emergency services for their support and skill displayed in managing the situation in very challenging weather conditions.
‘We would also like to thank the local residents who throughout the whole process have been extremely supportive and hospitable.
Water coursed through living waters after a door on deck burst open frighteningly
The Viking Sky, initially carrying 900 passengers including 200 Brits, plus its 458-strong crew, was taking holidaymakers on a 12-day luxury cruise along the Norwegian coast.
The crew sent a distress signal at 2pm local time on Saturday, as the ship developed engine trouble in bad weather, finding itself in rough seas in the Hustadvika area on the western coast of Norway facing waves of six to eight meters (19-26 feet).
After a decision to evacuate, five coast guard helicopter crews worked tirelessly yesterday, winching people one at a time from the deck of the stricken vessel and flying them fifteen at a time back to the shore.
Police in Moere og Romsdal said the ship’s crew had managed to anchor in Hustadvika Bay, amid fears the vessel would run aground.
This morning, with three of its four engines working once again, the vessel is heading slowly towards the city of Molde, on Norway’s west coast, at around seven knots. It is not known exactly how many passengers remain on board.
The operator’s chairman Torstein Hagen told Norway’s VG newspaper the events were ‘some of the worst I have been involved in, but now it looks like it’s going well in the end and that we’ve been lucky’.
The shipping tycoon, who is one of Norway’s richest men, added: ‘I am very proud of our crew.’
Passengers waiting to be evacuated from the Viking Sky wearing red life jackets
The ship battled heavy winds and high waves in Hustadvika, an area of the Norwegian coastline known to be dangerous
The cruise ship Viking Sky pictured here drifting towards land having sent out a mayday
The Hagland Captain experienced trouble with its engine after trying to help rescue passengers from the Viking Sky, and is now drifting towards the shore
As of Sunday morning three of the Viking Sky ship’s four engines were working and tug boats were trying to pull the ship to shore, a spokesman for the Joint Rescue Centre for Southern Norway told CNN.
Rescuers are still evacuating passengers and crew, but there is no latest official estimate for how many passengers remain on the ship, nor how long it will take to evacuate those who still there.
Helicopters airlifted passengers and crew members one by one Saturday, and the process could continue through Sunday.
By Saturday night, about 115 passengers had been rescued and at least eight people had minor injuries, said spokeswoman Borghild Eldoen of Joint Rescue Centre for Southern Norway.
By Sunday morning those numbers had swelled to 230 people registered at a reception centre after being airlifted off the vessel, and 16 hospitalised.
Derek and Esther Browne, from Hampshire, said the ‘whole boat was swaying, it was very rough’ before they were airlifted to safety.
Mr Browne told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Stephen Nolan: ‘We had a few people on stretchers, several with cuts, two with broken limbs, but fortunately we were alright. We were airlifted onto the helicopter which was quite a frightening experience.’
He added: ‘I’d never been in a helicopter before, there were a lot of high winds, hovering overhead and the winchman came down and we were then collected up and so I shut my eyes as we arrived into the helicopter and there were 15 of us for about a 20-minute ride.’
A smashed door pictured on the Viking Sky by a Twitter user, as helicopters arrive to help evacuate passengers
Footage on social media from the ship’s front deck shows passengers trying to steady themselves in chairs as furniture swings across the deck space and ceiling panels fall from above.
Some are seen to strike passengers heads in the footage posted on
Five helicopters were sent to rescue passengers from the ship, winching them out one-by-one before flying them to the mainland.
One woman messaged a family member to say she had been stretchered off the boat after injuring her knee.
The passenger said: ‘A wave smashed a door open right behind us and we were submerged under water.
‘We thought that was it and my knee has been damaged.’
Holidaymakers on board the Viking Sky wear bright orange life jackets as they wait to be evacuated from the ship
Passengers pictured in the ship waiting to be evacuated to the coastline
Viking Sky’s evacuation has been a slow and dangerous process, as passengers needed to be hoisted one-by-one from the cruise ship to the five available helicopters, it has been reported.
‘I was afraid. I’ve never experienced anything so scary,’ Janet Jacob, among the first group of passengers evacuated to the nearby town of Molde, told NRK.
She said her helicopter ride to safety came amid strong winds ‘like a tornado,’ prompting her to pray ‘for the safety of all aboard’.
American passenger John Curry told NRK that he was having lunch as the cruise ship started to shake.
‘It was just chaos. The helicopter ride from the ship to shore I would rather not think about. It wasn’t nice,’ Curry told the broadcaster.
A spokesman for Viking Cruises, which owns the ship, said yesterday the evacuation was still ongoing.
‘Viking has dispatched an operational task force, including the company’s owner, to Molde.
‘We are working closely with the relevant authorities and all operational procedures were followed in line with international regulations.’
They also said a small number of non-life threatening injuries had been reported.
Once back on the mainland, guests are being moved to a sports hall before they are sent to hotels.
Once back on the mainland passengers are taken to a sports hall before they are sent to nearby hotels. Viking has said it will pay for their flights home
Rescued passengers from the Viking Sky flown into Hustadvika, Norway, by a helicopter
After the rescue the passengers were aided by a Norwegian rescue team
The Hagland Captain, a tow boat attempting to help with the rescue, also suffered engine problems and two of five helicopters at the Viking Sky were briefly diverted to rescue its nine crew members.
The evacuation continued through the night and into Sunday.
A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: ‘We are in touch with Norwegian authorities and stand ready to help any British people who require our assistance’.
The ship left from the western Norwegian city of Bergen on March 14, and was due to arrive in Tilbury, Essex, on Tuesday.
The Hagland Captain, ship which sailed to rescue the Viking Sky, has suffered a failed engine and now also needs to be rescued, it has been reported
Passengers were hoisted up from Viking Sky one by one from the deck of the vessel and airlifted to a village near Molde
Rough seas forced two rescue ships to turn back yesterday as even tugboats are not sure they will be able to reach the stricken cruise liner.
The stretch of water, named Hustadvika, is known as one of the most dangerous sections of the Norwegian coast with many shipwrecks in the region.
The ship, built in 2017, belongs to Viking Ocean Cruises founded by Norwegian billionaire Torstein Hagen.
According to the company website, its passenger capacity is 930.
Several boats and four helicopters took part in the rescue and facilities to receive passengers have been set up on land.
But only 10 to 15 people can be taken per flight on emergency helicopters sent to airlift passengers to safety.
In an update yesterday a spokeswoman for the Norwegian coastguard said: ‘The majority of passengers are British of American. So far we have evacuated 115 people, and there are 900 passengers so it will take a while. The ship is steady and in one place.’
Wind was blowing at a speed of 38 knots when the large cruise liner started to run into trouble
The ship sailed into the worst possible area of a ‘bomb cyclone’ with hurricane force winds
Wind was blowing at a speed of 38 knots, police told Norwegian newspaper VG.
All search and rescue teams in the region are mobilising, including 60 volunteers from the Norwegian Red Cross, a spokesman said.
Viking’s operational headquarters, located in Basel, Switzerland, did not respond when contacted by telephone.